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Avoid a frightening lawsuit this Halloween

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in Centerpiece,HR Management,Human Resources

Halloween monsters in elevatorOne simple way for companies to give employees a morale boost is by loosening their dress code for a day and allowing employees to dress up for Halloween. It doesn’t cost the company any money or time—except for the few minutes you’ll need to set a few ground rules so this Halloween treat for employees doesn’t become a bad trick on the company.

Give employees a friendly reminder to avoid these types of costumes:

1. Sexy/revealing. Employees should skip the sexy costume aisle of the local party store, and bypass the naughty nurse and French maid outfits. And don’t forget to warn against the costumes that may not be considered “naughty,” but that bare too much skin for the workplace (e.g., Wonder Woman). This goes for male employees, too: no shirtless Tarzans or Incredible Hulks, no togas with nothing (or just underwear) underneath.

2. In poor taste. Remember the flak Prince Harry received for dressing up like a Nazi? Make controversial figures off-limits. Also put the kibosh on depictions of tragic events.

3. Provocative/divisive. With a presi­­dential election just around the corner, Obama and Romney masks are sure to be popular. Are you confident that your workforce is mature enough that an “Obama” and a “Romney” won’t come to (verbal) blows over their political differences? Definitely forbid an Obama supporter from dressing as Romney (and vice versa) when the intent is to ridicule or disparage.

4. Potentially discriminatory. Por­­traying someone of a different race is fraught with the potential to offend. Just say no. However, if an employee shows they know enough not to cross the line, then give a thumbs up. For example, a white employee who wants to wear a Michael Jordan jersey and carry a basketball around is perfectly acceptable.

5. Based on a boss or co-worker. If an employee really wants to go this route, require that he or she gets the boss’s or co-worker’s approval ahead of time. Otherwise, hurt feelings may result. It’s one thing to pay homage to a colleague who is known for favoring bow ties, but it’s wholly another to poke fun at someone by focusing on their weight or their out-of-style apparel, for example.

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